President Trump’s personal assistant John McEntee was fired this week because he reportedly bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time — a problem that affects the lives and careers of millions of Americans each year.
Although not illegal, McEntee’s gambling was the cause of concern among White House personnel that he could become a target for blackmail, according to the Washington Post — a legitimate worry considering problem gamblers can often face psychological, financial, emotional and legal troubles from their addictions.
“Gambling is classified as an addiction just like any other, like alcohol or drugs,” director of the Columbia University Gambling Disorders Clinic Mayumi Okuda Benavides told the Daily News. “It’s not a substance but a person’s life could be completely impaired by the obsession with gambling through thinking of ways to do it, the complications it creates in relationships, depressive symptoms or even suicide.”
The issues that problem gamblers face can spill into their professional lives as well, causing disruptions at work as they practice their addictions away from their homes and families.
Trump aide was fired because he bet thousands of dollars online
“I’ve had patients who took breaks from work during the day to go buy a scratch-off lottery game or place a bet,” Benavides said. “Today, online, you can place a bet on a computer, on your phone, it can be done in seconds, in secret without anyone knowing until the person becomes overwhelmed with negative emotions and obsessive behavior.”
Additionally, problem gamblers may feel anxious at work as they await a result of sporting events they bet on.
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In McEntee’s case, it isn’t clear if his gambling had any impact on his job performance.
McEntee has declined to comment about his dismissal, and hasn’t addressed speculation about his gambling patterns.
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“It’s hard to tell when someone is a gambling addict because there aren’t physical signs, which is why we call it the ‘hidden addiction,’” Benavides said. “A gambling addiction will often go unnoticed and we don’t know how bad it is until a lot is lost or a person has been through too many difficulties and is overwhelmed with negative emotions.”
For help with a gambling addiction, those in need or their loved ones can call or text the National Council on Problem Gambling helpline at (800) 522-4700, or visit the Council’s website for local resources.
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